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The Importance of Visual Data at Barbour ABI

September 2020

An Interview with Matt Grove, Geographic Data Scientist at Barbour ABI

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        We want to give you a deeper understanding of what goes on behind the scenes at Barbour ABI to result in you receiving the best construction intelligence in the business.

        Geographic Data Scientist, Matt Grove joins us this month. His title may sound niche, but Matt is vital in everything from our recent Smart Map campaigns, to the creation of the new Barbour ABI customer platform. Matt explains the unique benefits that his role brings to clients, and how he sees Barbour expanding our use of visual technology in the future.

        Hi Matt, can you give a quick overview of your role at Barbour ABI and how you fit into the team?

        Broadly, my role can be split into three key areas:

        • Handling spatial data – This can include visual work for interactive Smart Maps or press releases, as well as creating unique work for clients who want different ways to manipulate their data sets;
        • Analytics – I work within Barbour ABI’s economics team helping to produce bespoke reports for clients, as well as analysing the data to create forecast models for where we think the industry is heading. We go into the future to try to give a sense of what is happening across construction; and, finally,
        • Web Development – I work on the front and back end of our technology to bring everything from the first two sections of my role into an attractive visual package for our customers. We are focusing more and more on presenting our data in attractive, easy to digest ways at the moment.

        Are we seeing a greater demand for this type of bespoke visual service than in the past?

        Absolutely. We’ve seen lots more companies become interested in spatial data in the last few years. We had small visual maps in the past on Evolution, but now it’s grown to become a focal point of the new Barbour ABI platform. All new projects now have some sort of spatial reference, so it came more into the forefront of the product.
        As well as being a great benefit to our traditional platform, It’s also opened us up to providing services to those who want something more specialised from our data.

        “When you can see the data, it changes things. When you visualise the data in a map or a dashboard it becomes more accessible”

        How does that scenario go when a client wants something visually bespoke created?

        We’ll sit down as a team with the client and have have a conversation to figure out exactly what they need from our data that is outside of our standard package.

        Often, the data they want will already be hiding within our information, it’s just about tailoring and manipulating the data in a new way to bring out what they need from it. Some people want to see incredibly specific location data, which takes a greater level of refinement than what we ordinarily do, but once we figure out together what the client needs, we can accommodate them.

        When I first started at Barbour ABI, I would only design maps, but now I both fully design and build them myself. Barbour’s trust in me, along with investment in the technology and the recognition of how it benefits customers, has made this leap possible.

        Where do you see the role developing into in the future?

        There’s so many exciting avenues that we can go further down in terms of web development. We want to make the data more accessible and intuitive to use all the time.
        We are beginning to create dashboards and interactive features, which we want to expand further into. The more dynamic and interactive that we can make our data for our customers, the better it will be. We want to build frameworks that will mean we can produce bespoke visuals quickly once we’ve got the initial frames created.

        “Being able to create these frameworks in-house strengthens relationships and trust between ourselves and customers”

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